Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Duke & Duchess of Windsor at the Moulin Rouge Night Club in the 1950s

The Duke & Duchess of Windsor dancing at the Moulin Rouge Night Club in the 1950s. Uncle Johnny on sax!

When my good friend Rosie sent me this great photo of her husband’s Uncle Johnny on sax playing with a band that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor danced to, I knew I wanted to share it with everyone. With her kind permission I am able to do just that!

Rosie tells me the photo was taken in the early to mid-1950s at the Moulin Rouge Night Club, in West Palm Beach, Florida, probably in winter, which was the height of the season there. Uncle Johnny is the dapper man with the saxophone in the back. I loved what Rosie wrote of him:

The handsome Johnny on sax!

“Uncle Johnny was a saxophonist much of his life and worked in many famous and upscale clubs, mostly in New York City and Florida. He also played the sax with the orchestra at the Waldorf-Astoria in the 50s. I loved his stories of the rich and famous who went to the nightclubs he played in. The moment I was introduced to him by my then-boyfriend (who became my husband), I knew we were kindred spirits.

“His two greatest loves were music and golf. He passed away in the late 80s on the golf course while playing golf.”

How great to get some background on Johnny! I have always thought the men who played in bands and orchestras in that era must have led some pretty interesting lives. Can you imagine the people they met and the traveling they did and the parties they must’ve had or attended?!?

A magnified shot to show the jewelry better, hers AND his!

As for the Duke and Duchess, their expressions in this photo crack me up because they both look so bored! You know my jewelry-addled brain could not help but immediately hone in on what pieces the Duchess had on and I thought it would be fun to try to identify what she is wearing in the picture.

The 1946 Cartier bangle. From the book The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, 1987.

The bracelet was very easy—it is her 1946 Cartier bangle of carved sapphires, ruby beads, brilliant-cut diamonds and diamond baguettes, all set in 18 karat gold. Stunning! It was part of her collection that went to auction at Sotheby’s in 1987. The front was designed as a peacock feather and the center sapphire has a female profile carved into it, surrounded by a foliate border.

The original illustration of the Cartier bangle. Superb artistry!

The earrings were also easy to identify. They are her Van Cleef & Arpels mystery-set ruby and diamond earrings shaped like ivy leaves. The book The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor by John Culme and Nicholas Rayner does not state what year they are from, but my guess is the mid-1930s. They are magnificent. These earrings also went to auction in 1987. I weep, I think these earrings are just so gorgeous.

Also from the book by Culme & Rayner. I love these Van Cleef & Arpels earrings so much.

A necklace by Cartier once owned by the Duchess of Windsor.

The necklace was harder for me to figure out, and so was what looked to be a brooch pinned to the bodice of her gown, on her right hand side. It was not listed in the book. I searched around the internet and think I have figured it out: it is a Cartier-designed necklace, possibly from 1949, commissioned by the Duchess (or maybe the Duke) and intended to be Indian-inspired. It features ruby beads and detachable brooches that can be worn front or back and are connected to the ruby necklace by several slender gold chains. I think that is the brooch that is visible in the picture, and the gold chains would be hard for a camera to pick up on film. I read online that Cartier created the brooch from the tassels and clasp in 1963. I also read that the Duchess gave the brooch to Princess Michael of Kent as a wedding present in 1978, which would explain why it was not in the book. I have also read that it is now called the “Cherries Brooch,” so I am including a picture of it that I found on the web, just so you can see all the glorious color!

Now a brooch owned by Princess Michael of Kent!

All of those rubies on Wallis must have looked amazing. A glittery red heaven! Everything I read or learned about this necklace/brooch combination was from online sources, which I always take with a big grain of salt, so if you have any concrete information, do share it with us in the comment section. I love being a jewelry sleuth, but I also like to have my facts straight!

As for the Duke, I believe he is wearing two Cartier Trinity rings stacked on top of each other on his pinky finger. They appear to be of two different widths, one set a bit bigger than the other. He was frequently photographed wearing them this way, as seen in the photo below.

The Duke of Windsor with his Cartier Trinity rings. It looks like he is wearing two of them!

Let me know what you think of the jewelry on both the Duke and the Duchess. If you have any stories about what it was like to be in an orchestra or band in the 1950s, I am all ears!

Thank you so much to Rosie for sharing this photo with me so I could share it with all of you.


JoanneM said...

Love the jewellry Jill. Her earrings are my fave. I am especially drawn to his ring. Classic!

Michelle - Data in the Rough said...

I love the style of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor! Every piece Wallis had was spectacular! Even her costume jewelry was perfection! I did buy that 1987 auction book about a year ago off of ebay. It is spectacular. I wish it had a bit more description like the stories behind it but it is a great book. I also saw some of those jewels return to auction at Sotheby's in Fall of 2010. They toured and were shown in New York.

The book you are reading now the Windsor Style I read many years ago. I think near the end Wallis lists the food she eats when dieting. She had amazing discipline I couldn't do. A great post as always!

PinkCheetahVintage said...

This is a super cool post!!!!!!! So interesting! Uncle Johnny is a QT on the sax for sure!!!!

Jill said...

Hi Joanne! I have been meaning to write you for SO long. I survived the NYC high school process! Now my son has to survive a NYC high school...I am crazy for those earrings too and that Trinity ring is on my wish list for jewelry. The Duke looks so dapper in his, right? xx

Jill said...

Hi Michelle! If you have any reading recommendations for me, let me know. I do believe I have a big part of the jewelry tome collection checked out from the Brooklyn Public Library! I was able to buy a copy of 'The Windsor Style' on eBay and I am savoring it like I would a box of chocolates. I am on the dinner party part now. It's so good. You are so lucky to have seen some of those DOW pieces come back to auction. I am hoping I get that lucky some time down the line! Loved your piece on the Cartier Paris Nouvelle Vague collection, I still have that domed ring on my mind! Wish they made it in a mini size, it would be going on the jewelry wish list if they did! xx

Jill said...

Hi Becky! Isn't Uncle Johnny a handsome gent? Oh the stories I bet he had! I am so grateful to Rosie for sharing this picture with me. How are you? How is hubby and the girls and your pooch? xx

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

What a great photo and uncle Johnny looks dapper himself! People can say whatever about the duchess but she had one hell of a collection!!!! I don't know how she chose what to wear. One can dream x

Jill said...

Hi Naomi, I totally agree with you--Johnny was such a dapper guy and Wallis had one crazy amazing jewelry collection. I would love to know how she ever picked what to wear too. Maybe Suzy covers that in her book and I just haven't gotten to that part yet! xx

JoanneM said...

Glad you survived the high school process Jill! Now you only have college left!!!
I will be out in your neighborhood sometime this summer, I hope we can meet up!

rosie said...

Hi Jill,

Thank you so much for doing your post on our Uncle Johnny. Yes, he was quite handsome, let an interesting life & was quite the raconteur.

Enjoyed sharing our family photo with you & your readers. Believe me it was my pleasure.

You did such a great job of bringing the jewelry the Duke & Duchess wore in this photo to life. Seeing the jewelry up close & in color was just beautiful. The details were amazing.

Thanks again. Sharing the photo brought back many fond memories.


Jill said...

Hi Joanne, I have had several people tell me that the college process is a cinch after getting through the NYC high school process, so that's a plus! I hope we can meet us this summer too. Are ya going to Manhattan? xx

Jill said...

Hi Rosie, thank YOU so much for sharing this picture with us all, this is easily one of my favorite posts I have ever done. I wish I could've met Uncle Johnny, I know I would've been a big fan! What a treat to intertwine your family's history with the Duke and Duchess, and their famous jewelry, against a backdrop of a bygone era, all in one post! xx

Michelle- Data in the Rough said...

Hi Jill! Glad you liked my post on Cartier. I wish I had bought Windsor Style, may have to in the future! I do have a book you might like it recently came out, it is called Jewelry by Suzanne Belperron. She created several pieces for Wallis that the Duke purchased. I reviewed the book. Hope you have a good weekend! Looking forward to your next post!

Hermesmerized™ the duchessofH said...

What a wonderful photo and post Jill. I would have copies blown up and framed if I owned such a photo.
I love the peacock feather bracelet!

Jill said...

Hi Michelle, you are the second person to tell me that the Belperron book is amazing. I hope I can check it out in person at a bookstore, they don't have it at my B&N. I need to get to the Met, they have an amazing selection of jewelry books! I got the Windsor Style book on eBay for about $10 I think. I waited until I found one sold in the US, most of the rest of them were in the UK and more expensive. Your IG pics continue to amaze me. xx

Jill said...

Hello Dear Duchess! How are you? Isn't that bracelet just amazing? I am glad to see it on Wallis to get a sense of how big it is. And I'm with you, the photo is totally frame-worthy, I wouldn't be surprised if it does indeed exist in just such a place! I'm so glad Rosie shared this picture with me so I could share it with everyone. This was such a fun post to research and write. xx

Jenna said...

That photo is a treasure.